Friday, November 29, 2013

A Ferry Tale

Once upon a time there were three women who rented a car. This wasn't just any car. It was a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side. Not wanting a little thing like that to stand in their way of a good time, the three women bravely got in the car and headed out on a grand adventure.

As they were driving away Wise Woman #1, sitting in the front passenger seat, asked the Foolish Woman who was driving if there was enough gas in the car (you can tell Wise Woman #1 wasn't British since she used the term gas rather than petrol). The Foolish Woman assured her that she had already thought of that and had checked the gauge the day before. It was hovering just over half full, and the Foolish Woman knew she could drive a couple hundred kilometres in her vehicle at home with that much fuel.

One of the reasons the Foolish Woman was so confident was she knew that even though their Merry Trio would be driving north on Mainland, then taking a ferry to the island of Yell, driving up that island, then taking another ferry to Unst, the northern most island in Britain, the actual distance covered wouldn't be that great so they couldn't possibly need more than about a quarter of a tank.

Like all good ferry tales this one has brave friends on the path (or in the case of this picture, the ferry) to adventure.

It has hauntingly beautiful scenery,

 treasure (in the form of Shetland Lace),

Viking ships,

Viking longhouses,

and, of course, a castle.

The Ferry Tale day was turning out to be every bit as wonderful as the Merry Trio had hoped. The only thing missing was a spot of adventure. No worries on that account though, since it was Foolish Woman driving the car.

They were feeling quite pleased with themselves as they got to within a few kilometres of the ferry that would take them on the first leg of the return journey. They had arrived in plenty of time to catch the next sailing, which also meant they would make it back to Burrastow House in time for one of Pierre's wonderful dinners.

Then there was a noise. It was a strange noise, and not one the Foolish Woman was familiar with. However, Wise Woman #2, sitting in the back seat, said with a note of surprise in her voice that it sounded like the alarm on her car that goes off if the petrol is low (you can tell Wise Woman #2 lives in Britain since she called it petrol and not gas). Foolish Woman felt fear rise up in her, and quickly glanced at the fuel gauge (you can tell Foolish Woman has dual citizenship since she is using a neutral term like fuel). It was at the quarter tank mark. She breathed a premature sigh of relief and headed down the final hill that approached the ferry. Halfway there the fuel light came on.

It wouldn't be a good Ferry Tale if it didn't have a bit of treachery in it, and this story is no exception. The Foolish Woman didn't mention the fact the fuel light was blazing brightly from the dashboard to her traveling companions. She let them continue to believe the sound must have been a mistake, and casually suggested they find a fuel station on the island of Yell just to be on the safe side.

Yell has a population of just under 1000 people, so even the Foolish Woman was able to deduce there couldn't possibly be that many stations on the island. And it was Sunday. The few there were might all be closed. Visions of a Not So Merry Trio stranded on a lonely road in Shetland began to take shape. The Foolish Woman drove with the sweat beading on her forehead and gripping the steering wheel fiercely as if this might somehow slow down the consumption of fuel. Wise Woman #1 and Wise Woman #2, oblivious to the fact that the fuel light was on, kept reassuring the Foolish Woman that it was fine, it wasn't her fault, they would find a station, not to worry, etc. I would like to insert that this is the only point in the story where the Foolish Woman knew more than the Wise Women.

I'm happy to say that the Merry Trio did find a petrol station. Once they got over the embarrassment of having walked into a small convenience store to ask where it was, only to be told they were parked next to it, they filled up the tank and with much happier hearts headed to the final ferry that would take them back to Mainland and their beloved Burrastow House.

This is where the story would have ended, except it was still Foolish Woman driving, and she got a bit lost. For anyone who has ever driven through the island of Yell, you might be shaking your heads in disbelief thinking such a thing isn't possible. Well, it is. There is just one main road that cuts directly through the middle of the island. When Foolish Woman turned off that main road to get petrol she couldn't seem to find her way back to it.

This meant that instead of arriving at the next ferry with loads of time to spare, the Anxious Trio arrived just as the ferry was being loaded. Not only that, because they approached from a side road they somehow ended up in the lane designated for ferry passengers who had reservations, which they did not. Foolish Woman was flustered. She lives in a place where they can throw you into prison if you attempt to sneak into the ferry reservation lane (it wouldn't be a good ferry tale without a bit of exaggeration). Wise Woman #2, showing the wisdom of her years, spoke up from the back seat. "Just go. If they say anything tell them you're an ignorant American tourist." As it turned out, nobody even asked to see their non-existent reservation. Shetlanders are very trusting. In this case, perhaps a bit more than was warranted.

And so the Trio was Merry again. They drove the rest of the way back happy with the thought that their day had been a success, and knowing that a feast awaited them upon their return. Only the Foolish Woman knew how very close they had come to disaster.

Not Quite The End

There's a reason I'm telling this cautionary tale now, more than two months after it happened. Today Foolish Woman I will be driving onto another ferry, this time for a literary adventure.

Let's hope this ferry trip goes a bit more smoothly than the last one. And if you happen to be in the Victoria area Saturday, please stop by. I would love to see you!


  1. A salutary tale indeed. Reminds me of the time my foolish husband thought he had enough diesel to drive into remote French mountains and back. He did not! We were driving on fumes at night by the time we found a petrol station. It wouldn't accept our UK credit card. We ended up giving cash to the next French man who came along and he used his card for us. My very grateful foolish husband actually hugged the poor guy! He has learned his lesson!

    I hope you have a wonderful trip on your next ferry! Looking forward to hearing all about your literary adventure.

  2. I was wondering why you had kept one quiet for so long, congrats again on the book launch has a great day and hope you sell lots of books

  3. Loved your Ferry tale! How often that has been me.

    How wonderful to be on a list of published authors. Hope it goes well for you.

  4. You won't run out of eithe gas, fuel or petrol on this jaunt, that's for sure.

    Have a great and successful time.

  5. This is a hilarious read. I'm glad you found a petrol station open....that was very lucky on a Sunday in such a small place. We nearly ran out of petrol once on a motorway in the middle of the night with a baby in the back of the car. When we saw the service station lights blazing in the distance it was like a gift from Heaven.

  6. Oops! Your wonderful tale reminds me of occasions in my youth when my father used to run the tank down too low - he used to call it 'driving on his reputation, and hoped he had a good one! And another memory - more recent - of the aftermath of a bad storm in 1990 when I had to drive 50 miles home after the school day, when the power was off all over the New Forest, and I needed to fill up the tank before I got on to the motorway to Portsmouth. When I eventually found a garage where the power was on, the chap there said, 'You must have been driving on the smell'! Hope the book launch went well (I'm hoping to have a look at Perpetua's copy when she gets it - but I could just order it anyway!) Love, H (J)

  7. Ruth in Ontario, CanadaNovember 29, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Wonderful story! My husband always teases me because I just about break out in nervous hives when my gas gauge gets below half. I'm sure your book launch will be a resounding success. Have a great day tomorrow!

  8. No wonder you are a Published Author, Kristie, you tell a tale so well. So funny, yet one we can all relate to. Trust today's ferry trip goes perfectly well, and the book launch goes wonderfully well!

  9. I love this story, we have all been there I am afraid. Good luck with your next ferry adventure.

  10. My friends and family have their tales in the same vein: driving on fumes, coasting downhill and into the station with an empty tank; blowing a tire and rolling thumpety-thump into a providentially-place gas station in an otherwise blank roadscape. Now that I think of it, though, these adventures all took place in our carefree teens and twenties. What sort of example are you giving the next generation?

    Anyway, I'd love to hear you, and would definitely be taking the ferry today if I weren't too far south by about 800 miles. Best wishes!
    -- stashdragon

    I'd come to hear you if I were in the Victoria area!

  11. This was very entertaining, in part because I've been there. I wish you lots of luck with your next ferry ride. :)

  12. You really are a born storyteller, Kristie. :-) I loved that and was waiting with bated breath for either a Prince Charming or a Fairly Godmother. Glad you managed a happy ending without them.

    As for the book launch, I'm just sorry I came here too late to wish you a great day. I'm sure it was.

  13. A great story which you didn't tell us at the time! A hope the book launch went well and you didn't have another adventure!
    Sarah x

  14. Hahaha, that's a great story! As an auto-pilot myself, I've felt the sweat that comes with being low on fuel in a strange place (usually a bad neighborhood in DC or Baltimore), but never in a foreign country (not even Canada). That must have been quite a trying time.

    I would have loved to have been at the book event! I hope it went well.

  15. Loved your Ferry Tale, Kristie. As a person who gets nervous when the gas gauge goes under 1/4 of a tank, I was nervous just reading your story!

    I hope that your book launch was a great success.

    Mary G. in Texas (who was flabbergasted at the gigantic size of the Vancouver-to-Victoria ferries when she rode one many years ago)

  16. Hi Kristie,
    just wanted to say Thanks for being a follower on my blog, even though I do not write that much on it these days, but I am beginning to remedy that, fingers crossed I can keep it up! I follow yours too, and get to read yours regularly.
    Congratulations on the book launch, that was indeed a clever ploy to take Lucy with you! Major Congrats again on getting the book published!
    I loved your ferry tale, I have been to Unst and Yell and Shetlands, loved them. It was 1992: Just this weekend I took out the giant scrapbook where DH had documented the trip and we looked back at all the things we did, brilliant.
    I am glad to hear that both ferry trips went well!